Sally Potter’s smart and funny dark comedy features an all-star cast.
The Party, a black comedy directed by Sally Potter was screened in competition at the Berlinale. Great acting by the all-star cast and Potter’s smart and funny screenplay made the film one of the highlights of the Berlin film festival.
The picture was made on a lower budget and is set in one house with seven actors. At the press conference Potter described the film as an antidote to Hollywood big budget blockbusters.
Although The Party is set only in house, it does not feel too stagey because of Alexei Rodionov’s creative cinematography; black and white and full of unusual angles. The director said about the style of her longtime cinematographer Rodionov, with whom she worked on the 1992 film Orlando that he works in the best Russian traditions.
The film starts with politician Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) inviting friends over for a dinner party to celebrate her promotion, hence the film’s dual meaning, both the soiree and Janet’s occupation. Her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) is visibly perturbed by something which is later revealed to be his terminal illness. Every character is highly eccentric in this very British comedy and Murphy’s performance as Tom, the cocaine-snorting banker on the verge of a nervous breakdown is especially memorable.
The picture never lags, which is also helped by its brisk runtime of 71 minutes. The female characters are very well written and Kristin Scott Thomas together with Patricia Clarkson share some of the best lines in the film. The audience at the press screened enjoyed the film a great deal, laughter was often heard from all sides and it was for many critics the favorite film of the festival. The picture received the Guild Film Prize, the jury of which comprises of members who are part of the association of German Art House Cinemas. The Party has a wide appeal and has a chance of becoming Potter’s first box-office hit in a long time.